BTB Greeting Card Firm Offers Free On-Demand Printers

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4YourSoul.com began employing its on-demand greeting card print service for its first client -- outdoors apparel e-tail and catalog firm Northwest Express -- on Nov. 22, the day before Thanksgiving.


4YourSoul, Santa Barbara, CA, provides e-tailers and catalogers with the opportunity to offer consumers the ability to make personalized greeting cards. Retail sites can offer viewers the chance to upload personal photographs and handwritten messages and place them into the design of the private-label cards.


Companies also can offer more stripped-down versions of the service. Northwest Express, for example, decided to offer only four template cards that are limited to text-only messages.


In the Northwest Express deal, which 4YourSoul said would be typical of its future agreements, the apparel firm received a free on-demand printer that is now located at its fulfillment center in Hebron, OH.


The printer, an Indigo N.V. machine called Turbo Stream, would normally cost more than $200,000. The machine can print either 4-inch-by-6-inch or 5-inch-by-7-inch cards in quantities of up to 2,000 per hour.


In addition, 4YourSoul wired Northwest Express' Web site and call center into the printer, allowing online and catalog card orders to be printed and ready for shipment within two minutes after the purchase.


4YourSoul also is supplying paper and other printing materials and will handle maintenance on the machine. Northwest Express is managing all fulfillment aspects connected to sales of the greeting cards.


The average consumer price for cards made with the system is $3.25, although bulk orders have lower per-card costs.


4YourSoul will receive most of the card sale revenue while Northwest Express will get a smaller royalty fee. 4YourSoul will offer cards directly to consumers at www.4yoursoul.com. However, the card printer's revenue model relies heavily on business-to-business deals, and the company is working on deals with two e-tail firms that plan to respectively launch the on-demand card service on Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. 4YourSoul chief operations officer Brian Huse would not identity the two e-tail firms.


"When we've approached some potential clients, their immediate response usually went like this: 'We don't want electronic greeting cards,' " Huse said. "It's been a challenge to convince some people that we are printing hard, physical cards. We've had to beat this idea into some people's heads."


During Thanksgiving weekend, an average of 12 Northwest Express customers per day were ordering customized greeting cards to go with their clothing purchases.


Northwest Express, a division of Bear Creek Corp., Medford, OR, said the card total was a small percentage of the overall order totals for the period, but said that neither company promoted the service prior to the launch.
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